Gary Kloppenburg has been announced as the newest head man for the Tulsa Shock today. Kloppenburg comes to Tulsa after spending the previous four seasons assisting the Indiana Fever and long-time colleague Lin Dunn.
In the past four years Indiana has posted an overall record of 81-55, and has reached the playoffs in each of the last four seasons. The Fever fell to the Phoenix Mercury in the 2009 WNBA Finals, and most recently lost in the Eastern Conference Finals to Atlanta Dream in 2011. Prior to his stint with the Fever, Kloppenburg was Dunn's assistant for the Seattle Storm in 2000-02. During those years in Seattle, the team went 33-63, including a 6-26 inaugural season for the Storm.
"There are a number of excellent free agents available that I am confident will want to come to Tulsa and become a part of a franchise on the rise and we will be aggressively reaching out to them in the coming months," Kloppenburg said in a release. "I envision a Shock team next season that will play tough and aggressive pressure defense as well as be able to run an up tempo and early flow offense. We know we have a lot of hard work to do in 2012, but good players and coaches relish challenges such as the one in front of us."
Kloppenburg is noted for his staunch defensive coaching style, in a similar vein to his father, Bob. The elder Kloppenburg spent time in numerous organizations across the NBA and is credited with the innovation of the SOS Defensive System.
Along with his time as a WNBA assistant, Gary was on the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats staff from 2004-07, when the team freshly entered the league. The club went 77-169 during those years, with Bernie Bickerstaff as the head coach. He also worked in the Toronto Raptors organization as the West Coast advance scout in the late 90's.
Beyond his WNBA and NBA experience, Kloppenburg spent time coaching in the CBA, ABA and at the college level. His head coaching pedigree includes 11 years at Lassen Community College in Susanville, Calif., where he was the women's coach for five seasons followed by coaching the men for six seasons. His time at Lassen spanned from 1988-99. He was also tapped as the head coach of the Reno Sharpshooters of the ABA in 2007-08, but the season never materialized as the team could not secure a venue in which to play.
He comes to the Shock as the third coach to take the post in as many years. Nolan Richardson, Tulsa's head coach during the first transition year of the team, was replaced on an interim basis by Teresa Edwards midway through 2011's trying 3-31 campaign. Richardson was abruptly replaced 11 games into his second season after a dismal 1-10 start, but Edwards did not fare any better for the Shock, unfortunately.
Personally, this looks to be a curious coaching hire with such limited experience as the head of an organization despite a 23-year coaching career. Richardson and Edwards served both as coach and general manager, but no word has come down on the full scope of Kloppenburg's duties as of yet.